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Full text of "American dialogues of the dead, and, Dialogues of the American dead"

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

OF 





MA/AILTON 




PRESENTED BY FREDERICK W. PUTNAM 



AMERICAN 



DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD 



AND 



DIALOGUES OF THE AMERICAN DEAD, 



PHILADELPHIA: 

PUBLISHED BY EDWARD EARLE 

William Fry, Printer. 

1814, 



INTRODUCTION. (2<3UJt 



IK reading the Dialogues of Lucian, of Plato and 
Cicero among the ancients, and those of Fontenelle, 
Fenelon, Lyttleton and others among the moderns, the 
idea was suggested to the author of these Dialogues, 
that the same vehicle of instruction and amusement 
might be employed to the advantage of his country- 
men. The writers before mentioned had each of them 
his separate object in view, in resorting to this mode 
of communication. His object is simply to endeavour* 
to be of some little service to a country that he loves., 
by inculcating upon his fellow-citizens sound princi 
ples in politics, literature, morals and religion. His in 
tention, should he meet with sufficient encouragement 
from the public, is to continue these Dialogues in a 
series of numbers, under the heads of the political, 
literary, moral and religious. The two first of the poli 
tical he now offers to the public in his first number,, 
Scrupulously avoiding cither to utter the language of 
party or to imbibe its spirit, he has confined his view 
solely to those great principles in which all ought to 
agree, but against which all in their turns are alike 
prone to trespass* And in the investigation of all sub 

M632651 



jects, but ntore especially those which are political, it 
is of the greatest importance frequently to revert back 
to fundamental principles. He indulges an humble 
hope that the speeches which he has put into the 
mouths of those illustrious patriots and statesmen, 
whom he has chosen as his dialogists, though not 
such as they might themselves have spoken, at any 
rate will be found not utterly unworthy of them. The 
author has endeavoured to transfuse into them that 
spirit which breathes in their several works. He is 
fully sensible of the difficulty of his undertaking, and 
should have abandoned it in utter despair, had he not 
been encouraged by the hope of calling into the view 
of both those parties which now engross the politics of 
his country, some fundamental points in which they 
should unite, and thereby preventing them, if not 
from indulging intemperate heats, at all events from 
being transported to those excesses which may prove 
fatal to the republic. Upon points of minor impor 
tance, party animosity, under certain restrictions, may 
innocently exhaust itself, but on these we should say 
to party rage, as in the fiat of Heaven was said to the 
ocean, thus far shalt thou go and no farther, and here 
shall thy proud waves be stayed. The author of these 
Dialogues is a native American, and has been accus 
tomed from the earliest period of life, to study and ad 
mire the constitution of his country. The sentiments 
of his youth have been confirmed by the reflections 
and observations of his more mature years. He still 
regards that constitution, as one of the proudest mo- 



numents of human wisdom. His best hopes for his 
country are involved in its success, and surely its fate 
depends in a great degree upon ourselves. If we are 
determined, at all hazards, to pull down and destroy it, 
it will be wonderful, indeed, if it has strength to resist 
us; but if we are resolved to save it, there can be no 
solid reason given why it should not survive. It is 
hoped, at all events, that amidst the most violent con 
flicts of party, and even the din of arms, there are some 
inclined to listen to the counsels of prudence, modera 
tion and temperance. 

If encouraged by the public, it is the intention of 
the author to proceed, in due time, with the literary, 
moral and religious dialogues, in all of which he shall 
select such topics as will be the most useful and inter 
esting to his fellow-citizens. The present situation of 
his country is too serious to permit him in this num 
ber to assume any other than a grave aspect. In some 
of those that follow he expects occasionally to relax 
his muscles into a smile, and endeavour to amuse as 
well as lecture his readers. He throws himself, not 
without sensibility, upon the candour and impartiality 
of the public. By its decision, after a fair hearing, he 
is willing to abide, and promises not to murmur 
at the sentence although it should be against him 



AMERICAN 

DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD, 



DIALOGUE I. 

WASHINGTON, ALFRED AND WILLIAM TELL. 
WASHINGTON. 

THERE was an interesting wildness, like that of 
your native mountains, in the spirit of liberty exhi 
bited by you, William Tell, and your illustrious co 
adjutors in the cause of Switzerland. I could never 
peruse, without a mixture of admiration and enthu 
siasm, the events of your life, during the short but 
glorious career which you ran, while acting as the 
champion of your country's freedom. They who look 
back upon your conduct, without transporting them 
selves to the period in which you lived, and adverting 
to the circumstance that Switzerland, and many other 
nations of Europe, was then subject to the iron grasp 
of feudal tyranny, will award you but a small portion 
of the praise which you merited in that heroic enter- 
prize. How noble was the indignation which you dis- 



8 

covered at the cruel, wanton and atrocious acts of 
despotism, practised by the tyrant Gesler; and how 
daring the magnanimity and heroism with which you 
breasted yourself to the shock of arbitrary power, and 
broke asunder the chains with which he had fettered 
your country! There is something so singular and ex 
traordinary in the incidents related in this portion of 
your life, that we should almost feel inclined to ascribe 
their origin to the airy dreams of fiction and romance, 
and to assign them a place among the fabulous exploits 
of Hercules and Theseus, were they not established by 
the sober and enlightened testimony of more recent 
and authentic history. How very interesting and ro 
mantic, for instance, are the circumstances recorded, 
of your spirited refusal to render obeisance to that ri 
diculous pageant which the tyrant erected at Altorf, to 
mock and insult the good sense of the people; of the 
cruel punishment to which you were condemned by 
him; of the wonderful dexterity with which you shot 
the apple from the head of your child; of your almost 
miraculous deliverance from the hands of your op 
pressor while he was transporting you over the Lake 
Lucerne, to imprisonment, bonds, and perhaps to your 
fate; and of the happy opportunity which, on that occa 
sion, was, at length, presented to you of directing an 
arrow to the heart of the execrable monster, and at 
once relieving Switzerland from her sufferings and her 
fears! Through the medium of these transactions we 
are enabled to trace in you the lineaments of one of 
those bold, impracticable and invincible minds which 



are formed to become the scourge of tyrants and the 
deliverers of their country. By these generous and 
disinterested acts of heroic virtue, you entitled your 
memory to perpetual respect and veneration, and for 
these are you now enjoying the glorious rewards of 
Elysium. Such are the happiness and glory reserved, 
in the wise order of the universe, for the benefactors 
of their race! How delightful must have been your 
sensations, after your toils and dangers were ended in 
the complete deliverance of your country, to have 
found yourself so endeared to the feelings, and conse 
crated in the grateful remembrance, of your fellow- 
citizens, and to have heard your name re-echoed 
through the valleys of Switzerland in your native airs! 
Could the tyrants and oppressors of mankind once be 
made sensible of the pure and exalted enjoyment to be 
derived from becoming the objects of gratitude, con 
fidence and attachment to the people, their self love 
alone would triumph over their pride and ambition, 
and, foregoing their lust of power and domination, 
they would learn to consult only the welfare and 
happiness of their subjects. What is that pleasure 
which is to be derived from the grandeur and magni 
ficence of a throne, the splendor of imperial rank, the 
pomp and pageantry of a court, and the venal adula 
tions and obsequious homage of courtiers and syco 
phants and slaves, in the midst of all which, perhaps, 
the heart is the prey of distrust and anxious cares 
and torturing fears; when compared to that pure, un 
alloyed and vivid enjoyment which fills, occupies and 

B 



10 

transports the soul when we are receiving the free, 
unsolicited and unrestrained homage of a grateful 
people? 

WILLIAM TELL. 

I do not wonder, General Washington, that you ex 
press yourself with so much evident sensibility upon 
these subjects. Never did man more richly deserve 
the gratitude and affection of his fellow-citizens, and 
never did man receive more flattering demonstrations 
of them. If the efforts which were made by me in the 
deliverance of Switzerland, spirited indeed, I am ready 
to admit, (for I have in me a soul which could never 
brook the ignominy and baseness of servitude,) if the 
efforts, I say, which were made by me in the deliver 
ance of Switzerland, so suddenly commenced, so short 
in their continuance, and so speedily terminated, have 
raised me so high in your estimation, what honours 
did not you merit from the American nation for your 
fatigues, anxieties, watchings and incessant toils, while 
at the head of its armies during a long, perilous, and 
bloody war: and for your subsequent useful exertions 
in obtaining for it by the weight of your unbounded 
influence, and bequeathing it with your latest breath, 
that invaluable inheritance, a wise and admirable con- 
stitution of government? Your greatest praise was that 
unshaken fortitude with which you bore up under the 
severest reverses of fortune, and pertinaciously adher 
ed to the cause of your country, amidst those over 
whelming difficulties and disasters, which would have 



11 

appalled the mind and subdued the resolutions of al 
most all other men. All circumstances considered, I 
regard your successful achievement of American in 
dependence, as the sublimest effort of military skill 
and prowess that was ever witnessed. And after you 
had thus by your arms become the saviour of your 
country, what consummate talents and address did 
you display as a statesman, what exalted virtues as a 
man! Nor were the honours and rewards with which 
you were crowned incommensurate with your talents, 
your services and your virtues. The brightest fictions 
of fancy and romance have been realized in your life. 
When your toils and dangers were ended with the 
war, and you were elected by the unsolicited votes of 
a free and grateful people their supreme magistrate, 
the splendor of royal dignity or imperial rank would 
have faded before the lustre of your glory. At every 
step you were followed by the acclamations of the 
people, and every movement you made through your 
native land, was more illustrious than a Roman tri 
umph. The poets of your infant country, in no vulgar 
strains, have already sung of your heroic achieve 
ments; orators adorned their discourses with your 
name and exploits; and the historic muse has drawn 
from the events of your life some of her richest and 
most invaluable materials. If the death of Germanicus 
filled with gloom the whole Roman empire, the news 
of your decease vibrated in deep-toned horror through 
every fibre in the hearts of your fellow- citizens. Your 
glory, however, was not extinguished in the grave. 



12 

but rekindling from your ashes, only burns now with 
a higher and more steady lustre. Your name is em 
balmed in the memory of your countrymen. The first 
words which children are taught to lisp is that of the 
Father of their Country; the painter and the statuary 
have exhausted all the resources of their arts in exhi 
biting your form and features; and your image, like a 
household god, meets the eye at every splendid dwell 
ing as well as every log-house throughout your coun 
try. The shades of Titus and Marcus Aurelius, as 
well as Alfred here present with us, all of whom are 
enjoying the rewards bestowed in this place upon the 
benefactors of mankind, may envy you the honours 
which are still thickening on your memory. Had you 
lived in the days of pagan superstition, you would 
have been deified at your death. The English justly 
regard Alfred, who so nobly delivered them from the 
incursions and dominion of the Danes, as a perfect 
model of a virtuous Prince; and the Americans may, 
with still greater justice, venerate their Washington, 
as having exhibited an example, not only of one of the 
greatest Military Chieftains, and most able Statesmen 
that ever lived, but, what is still higher eulogy, of a 
pure and incorruptible Patriot. 

WASHINGTON, 

Whatever may have been the merit to which I was 
entitled, I have received an ample recompense in the 
flattering estimation in which I was held by my fellow- 
citizens and their unabated regard during the whole of 



13 

my life, and in the still higher pleasure which I now 
enjoy, being admitted into the company of Epaminon- 
das, Leonidas, Cato, Titus, Marcus Aurelius, Alfred, 
William Wallace, and all the celebrated champions of 
their country's rights and benefactors of mankind. 
Among those illustrious sages and heroes, who by the 
efforts of tkeir genius have filled the lower world with 
their renown, and have contributed to enlighten, to hu 
manize and improve their race, I have always regarded 
Alfred as entitled to pre-eminent claims. Justly has he 
been venerated by the English, through every period 
of their history, as the perfect model of an unrivalled 
sage and patriot king. If you, William Tell, and your 
colleagues delivered Switzerland from the intolerable 
yoke of Albert and his despicable minions, and I Ame 
rica from the arbitrary and illegitimate pretensions of 
England, Alfred enjoys the immortal honour of having 
relieved his country from the ferocious and sanguinary 
despotism of the Danes. The spirit and military skill 
with which he resisted the repeated attacks of those 
barbarous invaders his numerous and hard-fought 
"battles his signal victories the unconquerable firm 
ness with which he met the severest losses and misfor 
tunes, when having his army overpowered by superior 
numbers, broken, dispersed and dispirited, and he him 
self being obliged to seek his safety in the disguise of 
a peasant and perform the menial offices of a cow 
herd the pertinacity with which under all these dis 
couraging and dismaying circumstances, he still ad 
hered to the sublime purpose of effecting his country's 



14 

deliverance the promptness and impetuosity with 
which collecting his scattered troops, he availed him 
self of the first opportunity to pour down upon his 
enemies, again discomfited and subdued them his 
lenity and hospitality even to these ferocious invaders 
when the fortune of war had placed them in his power 
all these considerations prove him to have been one 
of the greatest heroes and best men that ever lived. 
His glory was completed by his subsequent conduct 
on re-ascending his throne. If before he had displayed 
the talents of a gallant and able general, here he per 
formed the part of a lawgiver and sage. Under his 
happy sway, the wisest and most wholesome laws were 
introduced, the welfare and happiness of his people 
promoted by every expedient which wisdom, guided 
by parental affection, could devise, and their rights 
scrupulously regarded, the arts and sciences were en 
couraged, colleges founded and endowed, commerce 
and agriculture promoted, the cities, destroyed by his 
enemies, rebuilt, and the whole nation advanced to a 
state of prosperity and power which it had never known 
before. But what peculiarly distinguished Alfred as a 
sovereign, and should endear his memory to the wise 
and good, not only of the English, but of every age 
and nation, was his delicate and punctilious regard to 
the rights and privileges of his subjects. So great was 
his solicitude on this point, that even in his will, he 
declared, " It is just that the English should be as 
free as their own thoughts." Would all sovereigns but 
follow his just and humane example, seldom should 



15 

we hear of those tumults, seditions and civil broils 
which so often convulse the world and fill it with 
blood. 

ALFRED. 

There, Washington, you touch a cord that never 
fails to vibrate in my heart. I never recollect the good 
which I did to my people, and the virtuous part I acted 
among them, but my bosom is thrilled with delight. 
It is in doing good to the people, in resorting to every 
expedient to mitigate their sufferings, and like a kind 
and benignant parent dispensing prosperity and hap 
piness among them, that a sovereign or ruler of a na 
tion, establishes his claims to empire and authority. 
The reflection which always afforded me more plea 
sure than all the splendor of royalty and the caresses 
and homage of courtiers, was that by personal ser 
vices, by the substantial benefits I had conferred, I had 
purchased a title to the confidence and attachment of 
my subjects, and that the influence which I had so 
justly obtained over them, was exercised solely and 
supremely with a view to their welfare. The substan 
tial and permanent interests of the people is the only 
legitimate end to the accomplishment of which a ruler 
can direct his exertions. He holds his station under A 
high responsibility to heaven, as its minister and vice 
gerent, and as soon as he loses sight of the interests of 
the nation, he forfeits his claim to the dignified post he 
occupies. In this respect, what a sublime example has 
been exhibited by Washington to the potentates and 



16 

rulers of the earth! How unambitious, disinterested 
and incorruptible was he! Instead of abusing his im 
mense influence and weight of character in the aggran 
dizement of himself and family, or like Cromwell, in 
order to elevate himself to supreme power, becoming 
" guilty of his country's blood," he sighs only for the 
quiet retreat of Mount Vernon, and like Cincinnatus 
to ; " return to his plow. Honours and rewards, plen- 
teously as his country showered them upon his head, 
were unsought by him, and were the spontaneous effu 
sions of a people's gratitude. How worthy of a seat in 
these realms of light and happiness, is a soul thus 
fraught with the sacred and celestial fires of virtue! 
But amidst this rich harvest of well-earned fame which 
you enjoyed, Washington, and while in all points you 
were faithful to your own glory, have you not failed in 
one particular, of vital importance to your country, and 
with which her future destinies are intimately con- 
nected? Should you not have exercised your unbound 
ed influence in giving to your fellow-citizens a more 
efficient and durable form of government? This was 
an object altogether impracticable to William Tell 
and his noble auxiliaries, since their views were limit 
ed to the deliverance of a few Cantons of Switzerland 
from the immediate pressure of an insupportable des 
potism, and even the Helvetic league which was 
afterwards formed was a feeble and ineffectual union 
preserved from dissolution only by the pressing fear of 
foreign danger. But with you and your country the 
case was widely different. Instead of that feeble and 



17 

inefficient government, which the collisions of the dif 
ferent parties have already shaken, several times, well* 
nigh to dissolution, and which is actually, at this mo- 
ment, tottering under the shock of a foreign war, why 
did you not bestow on them a constitution which, like 
that I gave to England, could control, if not entirely 
subdue the violence of domestic faction, meet un 
hurt and undismayed the storm of foreign war, and 
even triumph over the devastations of Time himself? 

WASHINGTON, 

And there, Alfred, you touch a subject which never 
fails to awake within me the deepest sensibility. In 
the fate of that frame of civil government, and those 
free institutions both political and religious which I 
gave to the American nation, I cannot but feel the 
most lively interest. It is natural that you should ad 
mire that form of civil polity which was introduced 
into England by your grandfather and firmly esta 
blished by yourself, and which, after the various 
changes and modifications it has undergone from 
time, accident and numerous revolutions, it would 
discover a mere prurient attachment to republican;- 
ism, as well as a stupid prejudice to deny, now pre 
sents to view a superb monument of human wisdom 
and has advanced your nation to an enviable state of 
power and prosperity. Nevertheless while I thus with 
out hesitation acknowledge the excellence of your form 
^f government and its superiority to that of any other 
nation in Europe, I as freely and candidly declare 

C 



18 

that, whatever may be the imperfections which some 
politicians imagine they perceive in the American con- 
stitution, I give it an ardent and decided preference to 
your's. Some difficulties and obstructions indeed, have 
been found to attend the carrying of this frame of go 
vernment into full and effectual operation, but these 
have not yet extinguished my enthusiasm in its favour. 
Availing themselves of the lessons taught them by the 
long and oftentimes calamitous experience of your 
country, whose history is pregnant with political in 
struction, the Americans have founded a government 
into which are more liberally incorporated the elements 
of civil and political liberty. It is admitted that this 
government in which such numerous checks and re 
straints are imposed upon its departments, and in which 
at the same time, are so plentifully interwoven the prin 
ciples of freedom, is an experiment; but it is an experi 
ment worthy of those humane and illustrious sages who 
modelled it, and glorious will be its ultimate success. 
Should it finally triumph over the difficulties with 
which it has to contend and in all respects prove ade 
quate to the great purposes for which it was instituted, 
it will mark a new epoch in the history of the human 
kind. And why should it not succeed? Who has as 
certained the precise quantum of political liberty which 
may be admitted into the constitution of a country, 
without so far enfeebling and vitiating the system as to 
expose it to a violent and premature fate? Who has 
marked the exact boundaries that must be drawn be 
tween the prerogatives of the government and the 



19 

liberties of the people, in order to communicate stabi 
lity to the first and perpetuity to the last? As natural 
philosophy is founded on physical experiment, so all 
political science which is solid and substantial must rest 
upon moral experiment, the history and experience of 
mankind. To this we must appeal as the ultimate and 
most infallible test of truth. In the reigns of Elizabeth 
in England, of James and of Charles, what would have 
been thought of the present freedom of the British 
constitution? Would not a system of government con 
ducted upon such principles as are now prevalent and 
familiar in that country, have been thought as imprac 
ticable and Utopian, as the American constitutions are 
now regarded by many of the politicians of Europe? 
While we reject with disgust the stupid doctrine of 
the perfectibility of man or of those governments in 
stituted to control him, let us not rush unadvisedly into 
the opposite extreme of denying him the capacity to 
enjoy the blessings of a just and rational liberty. If we 
must err, and to this we are all liable from the fallibi 
lity of the human understanding, it is surely more hu 
mane and virtuous to be mistaken in extending too far, 
rather than in limiting too much, the principles of civil 
and political liberty. 

But you have alleged, Alfred, as an objection 
against the American form of government, that under 
its sway the country is subject to violent convulsions, 
and seem to regard these as the prognostics of its 
speedy and final dissolution. And where in the whole 



history of man can the government be pointed to which 
has been exempted from these evils? To what sudden 
and violent revolutions is even the despotism of Tur 
key subject, and all the despotisms of the east, under 
whose baleful influence, those delicate plants the rights 
of the people have never been allowed to spring up or 
grow. In these countries the storms of revolution are 
as sudden and destructive as those tempests which are 
engendered in their torrid zone. And has your own 
monarchy, stable as you represent it, enjoyed the en 
viable privilege of being freed from these casualties 
and disasters? Oftentimes, as you well know, has the 
throne been shaken to its base, and once it was crum 
bled into a heap of ruins. From the period of the tur 
bulent sway of the Barons, until the days of king Wil 
liam, revolution succeeded revolution, under all of 
which vicissitudes the nation endured every variety of 
suffering, and under some, was made to bleed at every 
pore. That the American republic, therefore, is sub 
ject to violent agitations and convulsions from the 
conflicts of party, is no uncommon fate, and if the peo 
ple are faithful to themselves and the honour and glory 
of their country, these storms, like those of the ele 
ments, will pass harmlessly by, serving only to venti 
late and purify the political atmosphere. On this point, 
however, I candidly admit, I am not without my 
anxiety and apprehensions, (such as immortals feel), 
so much depends in our republic upon the good 
sense, the virtue, the intelligence, the moderation and 
patriotism of the people. The great misfortune with 






21 

republics has ever been, that the members of it have 
exhibited a discontent, restlessness and turbulence dur 
ing the enjoyment of their liberties which have never 
been quelled but by the iron hand of a master. May 
heaven avert this fate from my beloved country! The 
privilege of foreseeing the fate of empires is not be 
stowed even upon immortals, but reserved as the dis 
tinguishing prerogative of the great Supreme; but con 
fident I am, that by wise and moderate counsels, by a 
just and equitable administration of the government, 
by calling into operation all those moral causes which 
tend to humanize, enlighten and purify the public 
mind, the American republic may long protract if 
not finally avoid this destiny. That there will be occa 
sionally violent and embittered conflicts of party, is to 
be expected under a free government. These are 
storms naturally engendered in the atmosphere of 
freedom. They are at once a proof, a pledge, and un 
der wise and wholesome restrictions, a guarantee of 
the liberties of the people. So far from countenancing 
those wicked political persecutions by which a domi 
nant party may attempt to quell the murmurs of oppo 
sition, I would not entirely silence their bickerings if 
I could. If the oppositions of party be conducted upon 
fair, liberal and manly principles if a devoted attach 
ment to our constitution and laws forms a bond of 
union between the most bitter and irreconcileable po 
litical opponents if the indivisible union of the states 
becomes a rallying point in all conjunctures of emer 
gency and danger if the safety and prosperity of the 



22 

great republic be the polar star, towards which the 
efforts of all are invariably directed, whatever may be 
the prevailing difference of opinions as to the wisest 
and best plans of civil policy the great and perma 
nent interests of the nation are still secure, notwith 
standing the temporary paroxysms into which she may 
be thrown by the contests of party animosity, or the 
partial injury she sustains from the unsound policy of 
any given administration of government. An indisso 
luble union of the states, the permanence and inviola 
bility of our constitution and laws, should be the watch 
words at which every American heart should thrill, 
and which every American tongue should respond 
with enthusiasm. Palsied be the head that projects a 
separation of the states, and leprous the hand that would 
dare attempt the demolition of our present constitution 
and laws, 







DIALOGUE II. 

WASHINGTON, HAMILTON, AND FISHER AMES. 

AMES. 

It appears evident to my mind, that the United 
States must separate, and that all the evils which, 
during my lifetime, I foresaw and predicted, are upon 
the very point of breaking forth. The silken band 
which connects together these confederated republics, 
has been gradually frittered away, and will soon be cut 
asunder. The train is already laid, and wants only the 
application of the match to produce an explosion which 
will convulse the continent, and afterwards consume 
it with a mighty conflagration. I faithfully forewarned 
the American nation of the approach of these calami 
ties, but they turned a deaf ear to my admonitions, and 
must now meet the consequences. I apprised them 
that that cloud which in my days was no larger than a 
man's hand, would soon overspread the land with its 
deadly shade and deluge it with mischief. My predic 
tions are now receiving a complete and fearful ac 
complishment. I consider the American nation, at this 
moment, as standing upon the very brink of a preci 
pice, at whose feet lies the horrible gulph of a civil 
war. They have but one step more to take, and they 
plunge into it. 



HAMILTON. 

Amidst all tbat sterling worth and distinguished 
greatness, Mr. Ames, which no one can more highly 
estimate than myself, and which undoubtedly entitle 
you to rank among the first and best men, America or 
perhaps any other nation has produced, you seem to 
have had a constitutional tendency to high- colouring 
in your representations of things, and a kind of rheto 
rical caricaturing in description. Whether it arose from 
the amazing fertility of your fancy (and this faculty 
was certainly in you a soil in which grew sponta 
neously flowers of every variety of fragrance and hue,) 
or that the hectic which shed its unnatural and intem 
perate glows through your body, transfused them also, 
in some degree, to your mind, from the intimate con 
nection and sympathy known to subsist between the 
one and the other, I pretend not to determine; but 
certain it is, that to this circumstance alone is to be 
ascribed the fault which blemishes your, otherwise, 
masterly and admirable political writings. These pro 
ductions are subject to the same objection which was 
brought against the pictures of a celebrated painter, 
who was said to take pleasure in exhibiting objects too 
horrible to be contemplated. The blood curdles and 
the hair stands on end, when you are depicting the fu 
ture calamities which shall befall your country. God of 
heaven! grant that your prophecies may never be ac 
complished! I cannot, however, help indulging the 
hope, that the events of her history, although partak* 



25 

ing, no doubt, of that commixture of prosperity and 
adversity which is the common lot of nations as well 
as individuals, will be less shocking and disastrous 
than you have portrayed them. On this point, I would 
say as Cicero did of his anticipation of immortality, of 
which the sceptical philosophers by their controversies 
and doubtful disputations would have bereft him, if my 
hope be delusory, it is an agreeable delusion and I 
wish not to be undeceived. I would not sadden and 
torture my soul by anticipating such gloomy and hi 
deous prospects for my country, which after all may 
prove chimerical. If these dreadful evils, under the 
awful and inscrutable dispensations of heaven, should 
at last, overtake her, it will be soon enough to endure 
the miseries they will inflict, when they shall have ar 
rived. And, I trust, that although my countrymen will 
no longer have a Washington and Ames to enlighten, 
to guide and to save them; there will not be wanting able 
and devoted patriots who will be as prompt in provid 
ing as skilful in administering a remedy. I pretend not 
to deny, that the hopes which I was disposed to enter 
tain, in reference to those future fortunes which the 
destinies were weaving for my country, were occa 
sionally, and particularly in the latter part of my life, 
shaded by the most painful apprehensions, and that 
sometimes my heart was oppressed and overpowered 
by the settled gloom of despondency; but I must be 
allowed to remark, that a severance of the union, so 
far from being the remedy which I would have re 
commended, for these anticipated ills, is the very 

D 



26 

result which, above all others, I should most fervently 
have deprecated. The plan which I had projected, as 
is well known among my countrymen, in order to 
avoid the mischiefs which I was apprehensive would 
result to the union, was to impart greater force and 
efficiency to the federal government, and thereby not 
only enable it to sustain itself, amidst the severe con 
flicts which necessarily awaited it, but also to extend 
such a powerful control over the state governments, 
its natural rivals, as would, without annihilating their 
independence or consolidating them with itself, enable 
it to preserve them firmly and steadily in the several 
spheres, in which they move round it, 

AMES. 

Ah, there, indeed, General Hamilton, lay the re 
medy, and had it been applied in season would have 
effected a radical cure. Had your wise and salutary 
counsels been pursued, and the government, in its 
original organization, been rendered sufficiently ener 
getic to have perpetuated its powers and to have stayed 
by its arm every effort at separation, then indeed, the 
republic would have remained secure. But the time in 
which she might have been rescued from destruction, 
has elapsed, and she has let the opportunity pass away 
unimproved, in which she might have foreseen and 
avoided the numberless miseries which are now com 
ing upon her. The hour of her sorrow and anguish 
is at hand. Those hardy sons of the north, long tram- 
pled upon by their administration, and ground as under 



27 

a mill-stone by its measures, are determined to rise in 
their might and assert their claims. Having drunk to 
the very dregs the cup of endurance and submission, 
they are at this moment, prepared to draw the sword 
from its scabbard, and at a single blow sever the bond 
which connects them to the union. 

HAMILTON. 

I hold in too high estimation, the good sense, the 
intelligence and patriotism of that reflecting people to 
the east, to imagine, for a moment, that they will per 
mit any provocations to stimulate them to such fatal ex 
tremities. They who have hitherto discovered that they 
knew so well how to distinguish those limits in which 
a rational liberty terminates and a mischievous licen 
tiousness begins, will not, on this occasion, forfeit 
the reputation they have obtained, and by a single rash 
deed hazard their own peace and prosperity as well as 
those of their sister republics. 

AMES. 

But why talk of the cool and philosophical calcula 
tions of expediency and propriety to a people whose 
families are wanting bread, and who are crushed by 
their government as in a wine-press? The eastern peo 
ple have perceived with indignation, for some time 
past, that, from the addition of these new states and 
territories to the south, they have lost all their influ 
ence in our federal councils and become as the mere 
dust of the balance. The embargo by precluding the 



interchanges of commerce, checked the circulation of 
the very life-blood of these countries. All these things 
they have borne with patience and magnanimity. To 
this fatal measure has succeeded a war the most odious 
to them in its origin and character, and while a cruel 
and ferocious enemy is let loose against them, they arc 
left by the government vulnerable and defenceless at 
every point; and to fill their cup of grievances to the 
brim, while thus the sources of their wealth and pros 
perity are dried up, while in a state of perpetual dis 
quietude from the apprehensions of sudden and de 
structive inroads from the enemy, the scanty wealth 
they have left is rifled by the administration, and the 
flower of the citizens dragged from those firesides 
which it is their province to defend, to carry on a war 
of conquest and ambition. Will that brave people 
tamely submit to such aggravated wrongs as these? 
They will not They will forcibly sever themselves 
from that national government over whose measures 
they have lost all influence, and which instead of be 
ing known to them as a good government should be, 
by the benefits which, under its guardian care, it dis 
penses, is recognized only in the miseries it inflicts. 

HAMILTON. 

Whatever may be the real or supposed grievances 
they suffer, if they act wisely they will form no rash 
determination nor adopt any violent measures, during 
their present resentment and irritation. The passions are 
wretched counsellors and still more wretched guides. 



In reference to the loss of influence in the national 
councils and upon the national measures of which they 
complain, and of which I am free to admit they do 
not complain without reason, I would indulge myself 
in a few observations, which, I think, may present to 
the eastern section of our country some consolation 
for the present sufferings they sustain from the war. 
There is evidently arising in our country at this time, 
as is perceptible to the eye of every philosophic ob 
server, a southern and a northern or eastern influence, 
which for some time to come will be perpetually con- 
tending for the mastery; and this conflict, if it prove 
not the rock upon which the republic immediately 
splits, will, at all events, give rise to many of the fu 
ture incidents of her history. Sometimes the southern 
scale will preponderate, and at other times the eastern. 
The eastern influence, moreover, as it is characteristi 
cally commercial, will gradually extend itself until it 
embraces the whole of the Atlantic states, for the At 
lantic ocean itself forms to these states a strong, and 
as it should be, indissoluble chain of connection. On 
all great emergencies, these states will, I am convinced, 
at no distant period, uniformly co-operate with each 
other. The eastern states, therefore, need not be im 
patient under that temporary suspension of their power 
in the federal government, which is the cause of their 
present dissatisfaction and alarm. By wise and mode 
rate counsels, by adopting and firmly persevering- in 
those plans of policy which will contribute to their 
best and permanent interests, they will, in their turn 



30 

prevail, the present clouds which obscure the political 
state of their country will be dispersed, and the day- 
spring of peace, affluence and prosperity again visit 
their borders. At any rate, before they resort to the 
mad expedient of seceding from the union to obtain 
relief from their present sufferings, let them seriously 
reflect and weigh well the consequences. Were they 
separated from their sister states, what would be 
their condition? Would it be meliorated? To avoid 
present inconveniences and injuries, may they not pull 
down upon their heads the whole fabric of civil so 
ciety, although like Sampson they themselves may be 
crushed amidst the ruins? To escape the beatings of 
the impending storm which cannot long endure, may 
they not plunge into an abyss in which they may 
perish forever? 

WASHINGTON. 

I have listened to your discussion, gentlemen, with 
the most profound interest and attention, as this is a 
subject which has lately occupied a large share of my 
reflections and awakened within me the most painful 
solicitude. We who have attained to these realms of 
light and happiness, having our minds cleansed from 
the discolouring prejudices and prepossessions of party, 
can view every subject offered to our contemplation 
in the calm lights of a mild and just philosophy. Let 
us, therefore, proceed to a cool and dispassionate con 
sideration of the subject whose merits you are now 
canvassing. 



31 

I perceive with no little pain and displeasure, that 
the dissolution of a union formerly regarded as sacred, 
as the ark of the covenant, which no one presumed to 
touch but with veneration and awe, has now become a 
topic of ordinary and familiar conversation among my 
countrymen, its advantages and disadvantages are 
coolly descanted upon, and there are not wanting those 
who are daring enough to declare it as their opinion, 
that it has become both necessary and expedient. Now, 
this is a circumstance deeply to be regretted by every 
American patriot, as we all know how rapid is often 
times the transition from the habitual contemplation of 
an act to the guilty performance of it. Divines inform 
us, that in order to preserve ourselves from the con 
tamination and seductive influence of vice, and perse 
vere in a course of virtuous conduct, it is necessary, 
not only that our outward deportment should be un 
exceptionable, but even our imaginations should not 
be allowed to be vitiated by the intrusion of illicit 
images and thoughts. The maxim is not without apti 
tude in its application to the present case. States so 
happily confederated together as are those of America 
for the promotion of important and national purposes, 
should ever regard the ties which connect them as 
consecrated, and should never permit themselves to 
think it possible that there can be a dismemberment 
of their empire. It is dangerous even to indulge them 
selves in such trains of thinking, and the nation cannot 
too speedily by a kind of moral expiation, purify her 
self from the impiety of having yielded to them, 



AMES. 

Where, then, is the redress which a state or num 
ber of states is to obtain when it feels itself oppressed 
and ruined by the measures of the administration? Is 
there no point at which the endurance of a people 
must cease? 

WASHINGTON. 

They can obtain no other redress and they should 
desire no other, than that which is extended to them 
in the provisions of the constitution. I allude not now 
particularly to the controversy which the eastern sec 
tion of our union is carrying on with the general go 
vernment. It falls not within my plan to decide upon 
the merits of that case. If we wish that our federal 
government, the offspring of our own wisdom and the 
adoption of our own choice, should ultimately suc 
ceed, and we may be assured that with its success are 
intimately connected the vital interests of this country, 
there are certain great and fundamental principles, to 
which, amidst the bitterest conflicts of party, we should 
all steadily and pertinaciously adhere. Within the boun 
daries prescribed by the constitution, let the parties 
rage, foam and exhaust their animosity, but let them 
never dare overstep those sacred limits. It is a mockery 
to have a written constitution and laws, unless they be 
rigidly and scrupulously adhered to. But to return to 
the point we are now investigating. What kind of re 
dress of grievances, is that which the eastern states 



33 

would obtain by a severance of the union? It would 
be the redress of a man who, in a paroxysm of rage 
against an adversary, cuts, maims and perhaps destroys 
himself. When I hear men talking coolly and with 
apparent unconcern, about the separation of the States, 
I imagine I see children playing with edged tools, or 
in their wanton gambols, scattering sparks in those 
places in which they may kindle those subterranean 
fires that produce an earthquake. Men are, surely, 
ignorant of the long train of miseries and calamities 
which an event of this nature, may, and in all probabi 
lity, will draw upon them. I can regard the separation 
of the American States, take place at what period it 
may, and from whatever quarter it may come, under 
no other similitude than that of opening in the new 
world, the box of Pandora. More evils than imagina 
tion can picture or the tongue of an angel adequately 
describe, would be its inevitable results. 

AMES. 

But why, General Washington? Whence the neces 
sity of such direful consequences? Could not the 
eastern states which entered voluntarily into the fede 
ral compact, from the prospect of the advantages which 
would redound to them, now that they find it produc 
tive of mischief, peaceably retire from the union? 

WASHINGTON. 

Impossible It would be to defeat the great and 
leading objects for which a federal government was in- 

E 



34 

stituted. Why was this government established with 
authority paramount to all others, and with an influ 
ence diffusing itself over every part? For the express 
purpose of preserving those parts from violent colli 
sions and final separations. In the preliminary article 
to the constitution it is declared that that instrument 
was adopted to " preserve a more perfect union and 
promote domestic tranquillity." Must not the govern 
ment, then, be invested with powers competent to effect 
these purposes? And would not all of them be at once 
defeated were the states allowed to separate from each 
other at their discretion? It was foreseen by those 
illustrious patriots and ,sages who at that time wielded 
the destinies of the nation, that an association of states 
depending for its continuance upon the will of the par 
ties, and capable of being severed whenever the inte 
rest, passion or caprice of any one or any number 
should propel it to such a measure, would, like the 
Amphyctionic and Achaean leagues of Greece, the 
Helvetic republic, and many others which might be 
enumerated, prove as ineffectual to its ends as a rope of 
sand. It was for the precise purpose of remedying the 
imperfections of such a system that the sublime idea 
was suggested and carried into execution, of modelling 
a great national government, which extending its control 
over the whole should bind them strongly and insepa 
rably together, without absorbing them into its vortex, 
as the sun by its attractive power preserves the planets 
in their spheres. When the states entered into this so 
lemn compact, they relinquished the right of retiring 



35 

from it at their pleasure, and for any violations of its 
stipulations rendered themselves amenable to the tri 
bunal of the union, which has a clear and undoubted 
right to compel them to comply with the terms of their 
agreement. Besides, what sort of government is that 
which has not the power to coerce the submission and 
obedience of the citizens, to every just and legitimate 
requisition? Let it, therefore, be considered as a ruled 
case, a settled and established point, that if at any time 
any state in the union or any number of states con 
jointly, shall determine to withdraw itself from tjie,con- 
federacy, it is the province and the duty of the federal 
government to compel it to return to that connec 
tion. 

AMES. 

I suspect that in all such cases, which always pre 
suppose a great degree of popular excitement, the states 
will not be withheld from accomplishing their end, by 
nice points of political casuistry. 

WASHINGTON. 

Let them be withheld, then, from an anticipation of 
the horrible results. Suppose that the Eastern states, 
(I do not believe, for a moment, that any such things 
are to be apprehended from that moral and religious 
people,) but suppose, that, in a paroxysm of resent 
ment, worked up to phrenzy by their opposition to 
the administration, they should enter into the fatal de 
termination to secede from the union, what would be 



the consequences? At the same moment that they 
form this rash determination, they let loose the sword 
from its scabbard. With one hand they sever the bond 
which connects them to the union, and with the other, 
hurl the firebrand of civil discord. Could the general 
government look on with indifference and pusillani 
mity, and not raise an arm to reduce to submission its 
refractory members? It could not. It would be unfaith 
ful to the powers with which the people have entrusted 
it, unfaithful to the confederation, to its own honour and 
duty, to the seceding states themselves, to the glory of 
the republic, if it did. The attempt is, then, made to 
compel the recreant states to return to their allegiance. 
An army is set on foot by the government, and a war 
commenced for this purpose. Say, that it is successful 
in the horrid enterprise. At what a dreadful price has 
its victory been purchased? What hecatombs of vic 
tims have been offered up to the demon of civil dis 
cord, what kindred have imbrued their hands in each 
other's blood, what scenes of slaughter and cruelty 
have been exhibited by those parties whose sentiments 
of hostility have only been exasperated by their former 
intimacy, what arrows of resentment left festering in 
the heart, what seeds of animosity sown that will spring 
up and grow into future wars! 

AMES. 

But they would not be successful. Those hardy 
sons of the north, inured to toil from their earliest 
years, habituated to hardships and fatigue, and accus. 



37 

tomed to breathe the atmosphere of freedom, could 
not be subdued. What! shall they who were rocked in 
the very cradle of liberty, who, in our revolutionary 
war first raised its sacred standard and fought most 
bravely under it, when once they have again reared 
that animating symbol, ever strike it to an enemy? 

WASHINGTON. 

Such men should be the last to raise it against a Re 
public, founded by their wisdom and cemented with 
their blood. I again repeat, that I am confident, that 
intelligent, brave and magnanimous people, will never 
drive matters to such dreadful excesses. We are only 
supposing such a case to make good our argument. 
Let it be as you say, that the government has been 
foiled in its attempt to reduce them. Still the effort 
has produced the evils before enumerated. Still all 
those agonizing scenes have been exhibited which fur 
nish matter for the tragic muse. If we wish to wake 
our souls to the highest pitch of horror, we have only 
to peruse the histories of Greece, Rome, England, 
France, or any other country during their civil wars. 
What, then, must the acting of such dreadful scenes 
be? In the mean time what a spectacle olf scorn and de 
rision, do we present to the nations of Europe, some 
of whom would not want the malignity to rejoice in 
our misfortunes! A number of states have attempted 
to secede from the rest, the general government 
has exerted its utmost force to prevent it, but in 
vain, the disaffected members have made good their 



defection at the point of the bayonet. What a triumph 
to our enemies! What humiliation to our friends! The 
glory of our republic is gone, her power sapped, her 
pride humbled, the exalted rank she held among the 
nations is forfeited, never to be regained; she is become 
the object of contempt, and contumely, to those who 
formerly envied and feared her as a rival. Our bitterest 
enemies could not imprecate upon our heads a severer 
punishment. But let us not stop here Let us pursue 
the matter to its remotest consequences, following in 
our progress the lights of history. The republic is 
now forcibly divided, and two, or as some projectors 
in politics will have it, three smaller republics, a 
southern, middle and northern one, formed out of it. 
Thus divided, are we to expect to enjoy the halcyon 
days of peace, plenty and prosperity? By no means. As 
before we might read our history in the civil wars of 
Greece, Rome, England and France, so now we may 
read the continuation of it, in the wars which were 
waged between the rival republics of Rome and Car 
thage, of Athens and Laced agmon. Parties would 
soon spring up, more violent and embittered in pro 
portion to the limited space within which their virulence 
was confined, and convulse with still more portentous 
throes, these new republics. A thousand causes of con 
troversy and animosity would arise, as surely as the 
malignant passions of the human heart would continue 
to operate upon the affairs of mankind, and these would 
lead to the most rancorous, ferocious and bloody wars. 
These contests, animosities and wars would be en- 



39 

couraged and fomented by foreign nations, who al 
though now they would despise us, would set in 
operation all their arts of intrigue and diplomatic 
seduction. These arts and intrigues, which during the 
pure and vigorous days of our union, could make no 
impression upon us, when divided and weakened, 
would obtain a deadly influence in our councils. We 
should soon see one of these rival republics enlisted 
on the side of England and another on that of France, 
in those long and sanguinary contests, which they 
have maintained with each other through every period 
of their history, and which are at this time asleep for 
a season only to be speedily renewed with exacerbated 
feelings. Thus should we at once launch the barks of 
the petty republics we had modelled, on the perilous 
and tempestuous sea of European politics; and no 
sooner should the standard of war be elevated in the 
old world between the great rival nations, than it 
would become the signal for its commencement here. 
And during all this time, what, in all probability, would 
be the internal state of our country? Wars would rage 
with the utmost violence and fury; all those scenes 
which for centuries have been exhibited on the old 
continent and which have disquieted, convulsed, and 
wasted it, would be re-acted in the new. The struggle 
for superiority and pre-eminence, would excite inces 
sant commotions. Sometimes the northern force would 
prevail, and at other times the southern; but whether the 
preponderating power approached from the one quarter 
or the other, were ingendered in a southern or northern 



40 

clime, it would equally prove a destrudj^ tempest. It 
would be the difference only between the Siroc and arc 
tic storm. During this period also, the relations between 
the different republics being radically changed, and 
those who were formerly amicable and sister common 
wealths being converted into jealous and hostile states, 
their political, civil and military institutions are un 
dergoing fundamental alterations. Having forfeited 
along with numberless other inestimable advantages, 
that which we derive from the remoteness of our 
situation from any power which in case of hostility 
can become formidable to us, our governments must 
be so modelled as to be accommodated to our new 
situation, and suited to the exigencies to which they 
must be now exposed. The mild genius of a republi 
can government, our boast and pride, at this time, the 
boon for which we expended our blood and treasure, so 
adequate to all purposes of our present defence and 
prosperity, would not be sturdy and robust enough in 
its structure to repel the sudden invasions of formida 
ble armies. Each republic, vulnerable at every pore, 
must, now that it has a rival and enemy at its door, 
commence adequate preparations of defence. The 
banks of the Hudson and Potomac and the shores of 
the Atlantic must be lined with fortifications erected 
at immense expense, and these fortifications manned 
with veteran troops. Large standing armies, which all 
agree are so dangerous to liberty, must now be kept 
up in time of peace in order to provide against the 
exigencies of war. Thus the supreme magistrate in 



41 

each commonwealth has at his disposal a perpetually 
standing force. In seasons of extreme difficulty and 
peril, he is invested with dictatorial powers. This ex 
periment is repeated but a few times, before some 
Cassar or Cromwell arises, more bold than his prede 
cessors, who rendering himself popular with the army, 
bribes them to his interest, seizes upon the reins of 
government and makes himself master of his coun 
try, and then as a military despot rules it with a rod 
of iron. This is not fictitious history, it is real and 
written in Roman and Grecian characters. 

Thus together with unnumbered other blessings, 
would the American nation, in the dissolution of their 
union, pave the way to the final wreck of their inva 
luable rights. The happiness of our present situation 
on the globe, more than any other circumstance, af 
fords us the best security for the permanence and 
perpetuity of our free institutions. Circumstances, it 
has been said, make men. If this maxim be liable to 
objection when applied to individuals, it is emphati 
cally true that circumstances make governments. 
Place England upon the continent of Europe by the 
side of those powerful monarchies, and she could no 
longer retain the freedom of her present constitution. 
Transfer our republic to the same situation, and she 
could no more defend herself, with her present form 
of government, against attacks from those powers, 
than the infant arm could wield the battle-ax. It would 
become indispensably necessary to effect those great 

F 



and important purposes for which governments are in* 
stituted, to assimilate them in a great measure in activity 
and energy to those of the states that surround us. The 
Americans, therefore, cannot too highly appreciate the 
happiness of their present situation on the globe, and if 
by one rash deed they will forfeit this advantage to 
gether with unnumbered others connected with it, it 
will be an act of suicide and insanity unexampled in 
the history of mankind. To sum up in few words the 
whole matter. With the preservation of our union, 
are indissolubly connected our peace abroad and tran 
quillity at home, our independence and glory as a 
nation, the freedom of our institutions both political 
and civil, our future greatness and prosperity. Let us 
never cease to regard that union as sacred, which was 
constructed by the hands of sages and cemented with 
the blood of our revolutionary heroes. Let us venerate 
and religiously preserve our present constitution as 
the palladium of our rights, our ark of safety. Let the 
states confederated together be considered as firmly 
fixed in their stations as the constellations of heaven, 
or as the planets that move round the sun. The gene 
ral government, whatever clouds may occasionally 
obscure its lustre, is to this country what that great 
luminary is to the solar system. It diffuses through 
it the animating and fructifying light of peace, do 
mestic quiet, liberty and prosperity; while by its 
gentle and controlling influence it makes the states to 
move in harmony and order through their several 
spheres. We have planted in the midst of us the tree 



43 

of liberty, let none of its branches be lopt off, but let 
it grow and flourish that our children and our chil 
dren's children may rejoice under its refreshing shade, 
and pluck and live upon its goodly fruits. Let the 
permanence of our present constitution, and an indis 
soluble union of the states, be written upon our Capi 
tol in the blood of our revolutionary heroes; let it be 
inserted in our litanies and mingled with our most 
fervent prayers to heaven, let it be inscribed upon the 
door posts of our houses, as a sign to preserve us from 
the sword of the destroying angel of civil discord, 
Let us cherish our union, as the source of our country's 
prosperity, the foundation of her future greatness and 
glory, the depository of our invaluable rights, and our 
best safeguard against unnumbered ills. 










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